The very last thing I did before the appraisal person arrived at our house last week, was make one last run through of The Peacemaker’s bedroom and make his bed the way it was intended to be made. He was grumbling upstairs about where was he supposed to go while the appraiser was here. The appraisal was scheduled for early morning, before The Peacemaker is normally out of bed, so a little grumpiness was not unexpected. I told him he could be anywhere, just not sleeping in his bed. He seemed more anxious about the appraisal than I was, or just pissed that he had to get up early.
As I was making his bed, he yelled down to me from upstairs, “what are you doing down there?” I laughed and asked him if he was paranoid I was going through his “stuff.” I have gone through his stuff many times over the years of him growing up and I can tell you, nothing I find in his room would surprise me now. He came downstairs and waved a two page letter in front of me. I didn’t take it. I had my suspicions of what it was. I could see the tears in his eyes… the tears sat there, watery, but didn’t spill out. He said it was a letter from Daddy, an amends letter. He said he didn’t understand why his father had just left it there for him. I said it was my understanding that his father had tried to talk with him, but he was unavailable. The Peacemaker’s comment: “he didn’t try very hard.”
I really get what he was saying. Going through any of this is hard on us. It is emotionally draining and frankly, makes us feel like we weren’t worthy of Blue Eyes being kind to us, because he did very unkind things. No one likes being lied to, it messes with your mind. We want extra effort put into making us feel safe and loved, now. We want him to bend over backwards for us. I could see that desire that I have felt on so many days, the desire for his father to work harder, and his disappointment at the letter itself. The Peacemaker lamented that the letter was not what he was expecting, or frankly that he wasn’t expecting a letter. That the letter talked a lot about the mistakes Blue Eyes had made and that it wasn’t The Peacemaker’s fault. It was a deja vu moment because it sounded very similar to the letter Blue Eyes first wrote to me, all those months ago. The letter didn’t work for me, it didn’t make me feel better, so why did he think it would work on our vulnerable, sensitive, beaten down son? He also said that Blue Eyes had not mentioned me, at all. This seemed to really bother my precious son. That of all the things his father had done, and the days and weeks and months of watching me in trauma, Blue Eyes had not even mentioned it.
When Blue Eyes had written the first letter to me, we had talked about why it hadn’t worked. Why it not only didn’t make me feel better, it made me feel worse. (The Ninth Step). I thought he got it. I thought he would be able to use the process he went through with me to help him do better with our boys. Not so, apparently. As much as I believe the 12 step process is crucial to Blue Eyes’ success in recovery, I don’t like the way it feels so prescribed, so stagnant. Blue Eyes was guided by a 12 step friend, his sponsor, and his therapist. These guys are seasoned 12 steppers. How could he have not done better? Each person needs to be able to adapt the steps and their meanings to their own situation. As much as the steps are for the addict, I believe this one step should also be for the person that is receiving the amends. Otherwise, why share at all?
So, speaking of that work in progress addict me and The Peacemaker are living with, he is back at the drawing board. He needs to dig deeper. Blue Eyes needs to go to that place of vulnerability that he hates so much. It is the only way to actually feel some of those emotions he has suppressed his whole life. In my mind, it is the point of this exercise… dig deep enough in there to truly think about the needs of someone else, and make them feel special, make them feel like they are worth your time and effort. Prove to them, as much as you can with a few words on a page (or preferably coming directly out of your mouth) that they matter in your life. Let them know how truly and deeply you regret treating them badly. Don’t toss a letter on your son’s bedside table after he has gone to bed that says, “son, I was bad, and it’s not your fault.” We all fucking know… it’s not our fault.